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NATO destroys Libyan warship

RIA Novosti

17:50 22/05/2011

BRUSSELS, May 22 (RIA Novosti) - NATO aircraft patrolling the skies above Libya carried out 147 sorties on Saturday, destroying a warship and a tank, an alliance spokesperson said on Sunday.

The sorties on Saturday included 49 combat missions, and also hit two air defense radars, two command and control facilities, and one ammunition store, the official said.

Since March 31, when the operation to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya came under NATO command, alliance aircraft have made 7,732 flights, of which 2,975 were combat.

Russia abstained in the March 17 UN Security Council vote authorizing military operations in Libya, and it has repeatedly criticized NATO for going beyond the bounds of the resolution and bombing "civilian facilities" in Libya, including leader Muammar Gaddafi's compounds in Tripoli. The alliance has denied that its airstrikes are targeting the Libyan leader, saying that his compounds are used as command centers for attacks against civilians.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with Libyan representatives in Moscow last Tuesday and said the government was ready to comply with UN Security Council resolutions if NATO ends its airstrikes and the rebels cease hostilities.

A Foreign Ministry source told RIA Novosti on Saturday that Lavrov would meet with a representative of the Libyan opposition in Moscow on Monday. Such a meeting was expected to happen last Wednesday but was delayed for "technical reasons." The Foreign Ministry said.

Rebels have established a Transitional National Council in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. Several Western states have recognized the council or sent envoys to Benghazi, and the European Union established formal diplomatic contact with the rebels' political leadership on Sunday, opening an office in Benghazi.

In mid-February in Libya began mass demonstrations calling for the withdrawal of the ruling the country for more than 40 years, Gaddafi, who later turned into an armed confrontation between government forces and rebels.

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